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Posts posted by DanielBenton

  1. So if one is to wholeheartedly endorse Gottlieb's opinions on Jewels, what does that say about Acocella's New Yorker review, which has other emphases entirely.  If Gottlieb damns the POB for their "narcissistic self-presentation", does that mean Acocella totally misses the point by not damning them?  Did they see the same performances.  It hardly seems so.


  2. If memory serves (?) I think Merrill Ashley coached the Bolshoi in Diamonds a few years ago, and Karin von Aroldingen is still an active coach.  In coaching music, a good teacher is able, while remaining true to the essence of a piece, to dissociate themselves from the way they learned a piece and thus have a fresh perspective when listening to students perform.  Bolshoi, Mariinsky, Paris Opera and NYCB are so different in their training and presentation, and thus it would be fascinating to get their views.  Balanchine (like Beethoven, Bach, or Shakespeare), has a universal message such that his compositions can be presented in these really different traditions.     

  3. Thank you all for a very interesting discussion.   Because I believe the most enduring artistic aspect of Balanchine's work is his choreography informed by his musical acumen (sometimes combined with the "mind of the poet" [Croce]) resulting in a look into the "Real World",   I would naturally like to see an emphasis on that, but a biography is probably not the place for it.  Probably more of the flavor of CM Joseph's writing but less technical (musically speaking) and more accessible to any person who can listen and watch at the same time.

  4. A brief first impression:

    Emeralds:  A professional dancer friend who is a NYCB docent said to me (paraphrase):  My God, did you see how tshe (one of the principal ladies) used her arms and hands?  The way they move through space is as if the air has weight to it."  Some of the movements had beautifully synchronized movement and music; other not so much.


    Rubies:  In addition to excellent performances by Reichlen, M Fairchild and the corps, Joaquin da Luz was practically channeling Edward Villella.  


    Diamonds:  Some of the orchestral playing was outstanding, bringing out various sections and individual instruments.  Played rather slowly, which was probably to the Bolshoi's taste.  Olga Smirnova was as advertised, unbelievable.  She had said in an interview that the pas de deux was both beautiful in a cold way (like diamonds), and also rather sad.  It was exactly that.  She has a mystery about her that I have seen rarely, in old video, in a few others.

  5. Thanks Drew,  I don't have an opinion after one viewing regarding the production as a unified work of art, but I thought it was a heck of a good try at theater and at times I had the feeling I was watching an opera:   The relative importance of 3 elements: music, scenic design, and choreography was something unusual in my (limited) experience.  Just my own opinion - it was a more compelling use of ballet than, e.g., what Ratmansky and Wheeldon are doing.

  6. The music was good and intriguing.  The highly-skilled (young!) composer had to write a lot of it, and much of it (but not all by any means) was derivative of different styles (Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev especially).

    The first two female leads were pretty stunning, and Zakharova was her usual  self.  Balanchine said there are no mothers-in-law in ballet, i.e., ballet is not a good medium for complicated plots.

  7. Very late in GB' life:


    Here is the quotation from D'Amboise's book:

    In the year before his death, I often escorted Balanchine to visit the legendary Dr. James Gould 
    for ear tests. Killing time in the waiting room, I once asked, "Mr. B, in the history of all the 
    ballerinas you've taught and choreographed for-from the earliest days, Toumanova, Baronova, 
    Riabouchinska, all the way up till today-who do you con­ sider the most talented? The most unusual? 
    " He immediately answered : "Allegra. She is the most gifted. She is missing only one ele­ ment in 
    'the formula to be perfect .' . . . It's like chemistry in a jar . Energy, lots of it, must be 
    there. That's the soup that everything cooks in. Then you put in ambition and humility. 'Ah, I'm 
    not good enough yet, I can be better.' But, there must be balance-not so much humil­ity that you 
    end up saying, Tm not good enough, I'll never be ready.' You must have in the formula pride, but 
    not so much that the dancer says, 'I don't do matinees.' You can be stupid and still dance 
    beautifully, but you can't become great without intelligence . . . Allegra has the right 
    ingredients, but something prevents her from being consistent. I can't count on her. Still, I keep 
    her on salary and tell her, 'When you're ready to dance, come dance. If you dance one ballet a year, 
    it's enough.' She's worth it.''

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